November 30, 2007

you hear the sound
you wait around
you get the word

Jenny Holzer, Protect Me From What I Want

Do Not Touch Me, I am Caesar's
-- by Sarah Hannah

The fast hind's lust -- I wonder if you know.
Aging cowboy, boasting over ale
Of pretties knocked up by your arrow,
Of trees and tendon pinned down by your skill.
I wonder if you know how I can carve
You out in well-placed blows of hoof to bone;
I wonder if you know how velvets burn
And chafe beneath the collar, in the grove.
They say I'm marked for centuries, penned
To the nines, the end of time, the emperor.
I wonder if you know the hind's a whore.
You circle, point. I should run, but relent
With your approach -- your strokes, your begging head.
My bond is null, my lauded god long dead.

-- by Sarah Hannah

I always say, it must give way, it must all pass on
Soon, the husks, the frayed leaves clung to ossified sticks,
Illuminated by a flash of tedium: sleek
Silver Amtrak where I sit, a slow boxy stasis,
Shuttling endlessly between the same two terminals --
Boston, New York, New York, Boston -- until it is no
Longer clear to me which was origin and which is
Destination, and maybe origin is after
All and destination was, and where the hell does one
Reside, in shrub and tree -- leaf fall loaming into roots?
And then, suddenly, a coastal town, I never know
Exactly when, but somewhere in the middle -- a bay,
Egrets alighting, and then cows, and twists of briar,
And one gigantic trunk, long dead, full of green shoots.

--by Kim Addonizio

In this shallow creek
they flop and writhe forward as the dead
float back toward them. Oh, I know

what I should say: fierce burning in the body
as her eggs burst free, milky cloud
of sperm as he quickens them. I should stand

on the bridge with my camera,
frame the white froth of rapids where one
arcs up for an instant in its final grace.

But I have to go down among
the rocks the glacier left
and squat at the edge of the water

where a stinking pile of them lies,
where one crow balances and sinks
its beak into a gelid eye.

I have to study the small holes
gouged into their skin, their useless gills,
their gowns of black flies. I can't

make them sing. I want to,
but all they do is open
their mouths a little wider

so the water pours in
until I feel like I'm drowning.
On the bridge the tour bus waits

and someone waves, and calls down
It's time, and the current keeps lifting
dirt from the bottom to cover the eggs.

November 29, 2007

Have you seen the flags of freedom?
What color are they now?

Jules DeBalincourt, United We Stood, 2005

Mimicking the graphic design of 1940s newsreel credits, Jules de Balincourt’s United WeStood provocatively harks back to a time when US patriotism was untroubled and convincing. Painted in vibrant colours, de Balincourt renders this logo strange: transplanting history to a contemporary context, its significance is lost amidst graffiti and disco era reference. Made with spray paint stencils and tape-ruled brushwork on wood panel, de Balincourt’s authoritarianism suggests a lurid sub-plot of make-do survivalism.

* Black Friday Die Die Die. excerpt:

"Is this why they hate us? Why we hate ourselves? Is this why we seem to have no real idea who the hell we are anymore, or what it means to have a humane and thoughtful national identity, and therefore we happily scratch and claw and fight our way into giant fluorescent-lit hellpits for a chance at a $29 DVD player and some crappy plasma TVs and a pallet of heavily discounted spatulas?

"More broadly: Is this why we're suffering such a general feeling of ennui and disgust and apathy in the culture right now, the nagging feeling that we have no center and God has abandoned us and we therefore simply cannot consume enough goods and technology to try and fill the void? The answer seems rather obvious.

"I don't even know what Kohl's is. I'm guessing some sort of mass-crap superstore, like Best Buy or Target or T.J. Maxx or a weird amalgam of all of those and it doesn't really matter because last Friday they opened at 4 a.m. for the mad rush of Black Friday shoppers, because if there's one thing you want to do when your body is groggy and sleep tugs at your heart and your dreams have turned vacant and sad, it's grope cheap waffle makers before sunrise."
"Some say Christmas day most accurately captures the true nature of the American spirit. Some say it's Easter. Or the Fourth of July. They are all wrong. Black Friday has become, far and away, the most glorious expression of the true American idea, the gleaming capitalist leviathan at its most violent and orgasmic. Deny it at your peril.

"Every year, there are new layers, new strata of absurdity. This year, retailers were reportedly angry that there are now a few blogs dedicated entirely to Black Friday sales, and those blogs were posting secret inside info on which particular items the various stores had marked down for the supersale, those bait-and-switch items on which the shops willingly take a huge loss in order to lure in shoppers in the hopes they will grab not only the $8 electric skillet but also an expensive digital camera and what the hell, a new stove and a drill set and a car."
"More importantly, I also just read the disturbing piece in the New Yorker about the massive new oil boom, how the petroleum titans are right now stampeding into Canada to lay claim to the land and build massive facilities for the extraction of a heavy hydrocarbon called bitumen from the enormous deposits of tar sand found there, in order to convert it into synthetic crude oil.

"It is but one of a slew of new, hugely destructive oil-conversion techniques. They say there is enough bitumen intermixed with the sand that, if extracted and converted on a mass scale, it would guarantee sufficient oil for generations to come. Until recently, the extraction process was prohibitively expensive. Not anymore. As long as oil stays at or above $100 a barrel and people unflinchingly pay 4 or 5 bucks a gallon for gas, well, this brutal new technique will be insanely profitable indeed."
"This was my counterpoint, that until there's a profound shift in how we approach the world, in how we view the goods we buy, in how Black Friday and the rape of Canada are grossly, inextricably connected, we cannot effect much change. Much as I love the green movement and the Buy Nothing movement and the Slow Food movement and all the rest, in the face of the countless billions still to be made by raping the planet for oil, they're merely the equivalent of trying to water the rainforest with an eyedropper.

"There was only one thing left to do. We both raised our wine glasses for a humble toast to the belief that man is, at heart, a deeply benevolent creature, and that a true sea change is coming (we just can't quite see it yet), that we as a species will wake up and see our way clear very soon, if not sooner. I'm quite sure we finished the bottle."

* David Berman/Silver Jews news:

-- From the SJBB: Apparently DCB will be speaking at the Corcoran Gallery in DC February 28, 2008 likely relating to the Jeremy Blake exhibit that will be closing a few days later

-- From Drag City: title of the new silver jews record: Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea (LP/CD DC358)

* Beautiful short film previewing Jami Attenberg's forthcoming novel The Kept Man. Watch it.

* The Caribbean are playing two shows in Pennsylvania this weekend. Check them out if you are in Philadelphia (Tritone, Nov 30, 2007 8:00P) or Pittsburgh (Garfield Artworks, December 1, 2007 8pm)

* "Americans like to talk about (or be told about) Democracy but, when put to the test, usually find it to be an 'inconvenience.' We have opted instead for an authoritarian system disguised as a Democracy. We pay through the nose for an enormous joke-of-a-government, let it push us around, and then wonder how all those assholes got in there." -- Frank Zappa

November 28, 2007

People come, people go
Sometimes without goodbye
Sometimes without hello

Hannah Cole, Life Returned to Normal (The Color Feild), 2006

Piano Solo
-- by Nicanor Parra

translated by William Carlos Williams

Since man's life is nothing but a bit of action at a distance,
A bit of foam shining inside a glass;
Since trees are nothing but moving trees;
Nothing but chairs and tables in perpetual motion;
Since we ourselves are nothing but beings
(As the godhead itself is nothing but God);
Now that we do not speak solely to be heard
But so that others may speak
And the echo precede the voice that produces it;
Since we do not even have the consolation of a chaos
In the garden that yawns and fills with air,
A puzzle that we must solve before our death
So that we may nonchalantly resuscitate later on
When we have led woman to excess;
Since there is also a heaven and hell,
Permit me to propose a few things:

I wish to make a noise with my feet
I want my soul to find its proper body.

The Imperfect Lover
-- by Nicanor Parra

translated by Thomas Merton

A pair of newlyweds
Halt before a tomb
She is in severe white

To observe without being seen
I hide behind a pillar.

While the sad bride
Weeds her father's grave
The imperfect lover devotes himself
To reading a magazine

Love Talk
-- by Nicanor Parra

translated by Miller Williams

We've been here an hour
But you always come up with the same old answer
You want to drive me crazy with your jokes
But I know them by heart.
Don't you like my mouth? Don't you like my eyes?
-Of course I like your eyes
-Than why don't you kiss them?
-What makes you think I'm not going to kiss them?
-Why don't you like my thighs or my breasts?
-What do you mean, I don't like your breasts?
-Then why don't you show it?
Touch them while you have the chance.
-I don't like for you to make me do it.
-Then why did you make me undress?
-I didn't tell you to undress.
You did it yourself
Look, put your clothes on before your husband gets home
Stop talking and put your clothes on
Before your husband gets home.

-- by Nicanor Parra

translated by Miller Williams

A gentleman of good will
Gifted in the personal services
Is available to care for ladies at night
But it must be at night.

Without obligation
Completely responsible
Disposed to matrimony
Provided a lady knows how to move her hips

November 27, 2007

We've heard this little scene, we've heard it many times.
People fighting over little things and wasting precious time.
They might be better off ... I think ... the way it seems to me.
Making up their own shows, which might be better than T.V.

Royal Nebeker, Rockin in the Free World, 2007

* Imagining American Leadership. excerpt:

"Our presidential candidates could use a little more imagination. In fact, imagination is the very trait that our nation would do well to hoard in coming decades.

"Would-be presidents have offered various education-related formulas for continued American competitiveness. This involves such good-faith efforts as increased support for K-12 education or improved access to community colleges.

"But a more strategic vision would involve two priorities: First, we require a greater commitment to the American research enterprise than Congress has displayed of late. Second, we require a national renaissance of the arts and humanities, so that American imagination can continue to fuel American innovation.

"Sufficient federal funding for basic research is vital: Cutting-edge science and technology discoveries can spur vast new industries and economic sectors that drive the global economy. The American-born Internet is today's exemplar; tomorrow's exemplar may be nano-science or quantum computing."
"Our creative edge can be honed, even as other edges grow blunt. While most of China's new engineers must focus on developing and servicing China's vast infrastructural needs, American infrastructure is already so well-developed that lower-level technicians can service it. This reduces the need for the United States to produce a matching number of engineers, and also allows the bulk of American-based engineers and scientists to dedicate themselves to technologies that can drive our economic future.

"But a revaluing of the arts and humanities is essential to this process. Numerous lofty reasons exist to re-value the right-brain realms: to ignore the arts and humanities is to commit cultural suicide. The arts help us discern what it is to be fully human, and to live in the society of other humans. There are practical reasons too: The arts help us produce better engineers, better scientists, better physicians and better entrepreneurs.

"Art is the ability to impose a meaningful pattern on experience and existence, the English mathematician Alfred North Whitehead noted. An artless technologist, one who attempts to innovate without this ability, will produce work that is sterile or even dangerous."
"The arts have captured their imaginations long enough to expand and then unleash their imaginations toward practical purposes. A recent USC Student Innovator Showcase spotlighted a range of student innovations -- including efforts to take wiki-knowledge to the next level, address overlooked health concerns, and reorganize how entertainment is distributed and shared. These students are finding that their enhanced ability to create new opportunities and new solutions can serve as a precious anchor as their world lurches in unexpected directions.

"This should remind politicians, pundits and ordinary citizens that an American college diploma should represent far more than a job credential confirming that a few years were spent in a classroom; it should represent a uniquely transforming experience of lasting benefit to both student and society. It just takes a little imagination."

* 2005 Index Magazine interview of Richard Prince. excerpt:

Interviewer: Do you ever look at one of your pieces and ask yourself, "What was I thinking?"

Prince: All the time, especially with my early work. The other day, I saw a set of photographs I took of fountain pens in 1978 — what the hell was I thinking? It's so precise. It looks as if I was in control. I wasn't in control. I didn't know what I was doing. I was so young.

Interviewer: You were working in New York at the Time-Life Building around that time.

Prince: In 1975, I was twenty-seven and working part-time in the employees' bookstore. There was a large storage room three levels down in the basement. No one ever went down there, so I built myself a studio.

Interviewer: That's where you started photographing photographs.

Prince: I got a job in the tearsheets department, ripping up magazines like People, Fortune, Sports Illustrated, and Time, and delivering the editorial pages to the appropriate departments. At the end of the day, I was left with the advertising pages. I started looking at the ads very carefully. These images of happy couples were supposed to represent something, but they didn't really mean anything to me. So I began to use a camera to make fake photographs of the ads.

Interviewer: Why did you rephotograph the photographs?

Prince: By rephotographing a magazine page and then developing the film in a cheap lab, the photos came out very strange. They looked like they could be my photos, but they weren't. Then I started noticing patterns in the photos, and I would make things up, pretending that there was more meaning there. Back in 1978, I did a piece called Three Women Looking in the Same Direction, in which I photographed three original color advertisements and printed them as black-and-white images. I wanted to present them in a very normal way, so I matted them, framed them, and hung them.
Interviewer: You moved to New York in 1973 when you were twenty-four.

Prince: Ever since I was a child, I always had this fantasy about coming to New York City. The first place I rented was on Prince Street and West Broadway in Soho. I didn't know a soul. I would go days without talking. My only conversations were with bartenders. Since I didn't come from a university background, I didn't have the contacts that would lead me to people in the art world. But I've always loved art, so there was never even a question about my being an artist. Saturday was gallery opening day, and lots of people were out and about. I had a great time.

Interviewer: You were spending a lot of time in galleries.

Prince: I remember seeing Joseph Beuys' performance I Like America and America Likes Me, in which he was locked in a room with a coyote at Rene Block, a European gallery. And I became friends with Susan Gibson from the Gibson Gallery in Soho — she sort of took me under her wing. I would occasionally bring some of my work to show her. It wasn't about trying to get a show there, because the gallery was showing major artists like Vito Acconci, Dennis Oppenheim, and Bill Beckley.

Interviewer: Your first solo exhibition was at Metro Pictures in 1980.

Prince: I didn't have the best experience when I first exhibited my own work. The best time was during the summer before the gallery opened, when all of the artists hung out together in the owner's loft.

Interviewer: Back then, your photography was often grouped with the Pictures Generation, including Cindy Sherman and Sherrie Levine — artists who questioned notions of originality and authenticity.

Prince: I didn't really know those people at that time. Everybody was talking about ideas like the death of the author, and I was pulled into a situation where my work was looked at as theory. I felt that it was being overinterpreted. I would tell these critics, "I'm sorry, but you're wrong," and because of it, I sort of got kicked out of the club. I was friendlier with the next batch of artists — Christopher Wool, Martin Kippenberger, and Walter Dahn.

Interviewer: You opened your own gallery on the Lower East Side in 1983.

Prince: I opened Spiritual America anonymously, and I hired a girl to front it. It was a Malcolm McLarenesque gallery on Rivington Street. We never advertised, and we never invited anybody. When the media or someone from the outside world would call, we'd say that it was just for friends. But we were open to the public. We only had four shows, though.
Interviewer: How much of your work is personal and how much is commentary?

Prince: It's fifty-fifty. When I start out I don't know anything about my subject matter. I didn't know anything about publicity pictures when I started collecting eight-by-tens. I definitely didn't know that there are autograph collector conventions. Maybe the more I get to know about a subject, the more it becomes art. The one thing I do know about is art — but I don't know what makes art.

* Spiritualized, playing I Think I'm In Love, recently at the Apollo.

* "Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested." -- Francis Bacon

November 26, 2007

When you're lonely and tired of the city
Remember it's a flower made out of clay

Melanie Schiff, Emergency, 2006

* You're Eating That?. excerpt:

"Food safety, like toy safety, is part of a growing national concern that government agencies that are supposed to protect consumers have been whittled down to incompetence. The Bush administration insists it is focusing on import safety — finally. Congress must keep pressing for a complete overhaul of the consumer protection system. Each day there is news of another dangerous hole in the consumer safety net.

"USA Today pointed out a particularly glaring problem last week. The private laboratories that test foods from companies on the government’s 'import alert list' cannot automatically report tainted food to the Food and Drug Administration. Instead, they must give their reports to the importer who is paying for the test. If a shipment fails one laboratory’s test, some importers have switched to a less-reputable laboratory to get the tainted foodstuff through. That cannot be allowed. When labs find a batch of food with too much pesticide or salmonella or worse, they should be required to alert the F.D.A., not hope the companies will come clean for them.

"The F.D.A. needs to follow through on promises to determine which companies abroad are more trustworthy and which require closer scrutiny. One quick solution would be to immediately require accreditation of private laboratories through the International Standards Organization. The best labs would welcome that certification."
"After years of mollycoddling the industry, the Bush administration needs to start protecting America’s consumers. Many members of the food industry now understand that they are losing their customers’ confidence, which means they’re in danger of losing their business.

"The Food Marketing Institute — with 1,500 members, including major grocery chains and wholesalers — is calling for new rules that would allow the government to recall any food shipment if the producer or importer hesitates. That makes sense to us. Americans need to be a lot more confident that what is on sale at the corner grocery is safe enough to eat."

* Clusterfuck Nation. excerpt:

"The great debate among those of us on the Economy Deathwatch seems to be whether the debacle we observe around us will resolve as a crash or a slow-motion financial train wreck. It seems to me that at every layer of the system, we're susceptible to both -- in tradable paper, institutional legitimacy, individual solvency, productive activity, real employment, 'consumer' behavior, and energy resources. Some things are crashing as I write.

"The dollar is losing about a cent every three weeks against other currencies. A penny doesn't seem like much, but keep that pace up for another year and the world's 'reserve currency' becomes the world's reserve toilet paper. Oil prices are poised to enter the triple-digit realm, the psychological effect of which may be jarring to 200 million not-so-happy motorists. The value of chipboard-and-vinyl houses is tanking beyond question. Of course, the government's consumer price inflation figures and employment numbers are dismissed broadly as lacking credence. But anybody who has bought a bag of onions and a jar of jam lately knows that things are way up in the supermarket aisles, and so many illegal Mexican migrants were employed in the Sunbelt housing boom, that their absence in the bust won't register on any chart.

"It's hard to describe what constitutes the bulk of the stuff moving through the world's financial markets for the simple reason that it was purposely-designed to be so abstruse and provisional that traders would be too intimidated to ask what it represents -- and the growing terrified suspicion is that it's mostly worthless. By this I refer to the global freak show of derivatives, concocted 'plays' on hypothetical 'positions,' credit default swaps, arbitrages in imagined 'differentials,' nifty equations, hedges, promises, algorithms executed by robots, and 'off-book' wishes chartered in the Cayman Islands. Probably all of them, in one way or another, are just scams, since they are unaffiliated with productive activity."
"To some extent, the speed and severity of the financial train wreck will occur in a mutually reinforcing relation to what happens in the oil markets. The rise in price is only the mildest symptom of growing instability for the system that allocates the world's most critical resource. Even in the face of 'demand destruction,' weird changes are occurring in the way that the oil producers do business. The decline in export rates and the new spirit of 'oil nationalism' will take center stage now, even if the US economy seizes up. These phenomena will represent a new cycle in world affairs: the global contest for remaining fossil fuel resources.

"Sooner rather than later, the next symptom will appear: spot shortages around the US and hoarding behavior. This is what will finally wake the American public out of its long sleepwalk (and Matthew Simmons said this first, by the way) -- when the lines form at the gas stations and the tempers flare and the handguns come out of the glove compartments.

"In the financial markets and the economies of nations, it's not a case of either/or. It's a matter of either/and."

* Bonnie Prince Billy Live At Lunch, recorded at WFPK in June 2007.

* History of Billie Holliday's Washington, D.C. days.

* "A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say." -- Italo Calvino

November 21, 2007

the moon was a drip on a dark hood

"Political conflicts are merely surfaced manifestations. If conflicts arise you may be sure that certain powers intend to keep this conflict under operation since they hope to profit from the situation. To concern yourself with surface political conflicts is to make the mistake of the bull in the ring, you are charging the cloth. That is what politics is for, to teach you the cloth. Just as the bullfighter teaches the bull, teaches him to follow, obey the cloth." -- William S. Burroughs

A Thanksgiving Prayer
-- by William S. Burroughs

Thanks for the wild turkey and the passenger pigeons, destined to be shit out through wholesome American guts.

Thanks for a continent to despoil and poison.

Thanks for Indians to provide a modicum of challenge and danger.

Thanks for vast herds of bison to kill and skin leaving the carcasses to rot.

Thanks for bounties on wolves and coyotes.

Thanks for the American dream,
To vulgarize and to falsify until the bare lies shine through.

Thanks for the KKK.

For nigger-killin' lawmen, feelin' their notches.

For decent church-goin' women, with their mean, pinched, bitter, evil faces.

Thanks for "Kill a Queer for Christ" stickers.

Thanks for laboratory AIDS.

Thanks for Prohibition and the war against drugs.

Thanks for a country where nobody's allowed to mind their own business.

Thanks for a nation of finks.

Yes, thanks for all the memories -- all right let's see your arms!

You always were a headache and you always were a bore.

Thanks for the last and greatest betrayal of the last and greatest of human dreams.

-- Watch Burroughs read this poem.

Back Monday

November 20, 2007

All I want in life's a little bit of love to take the pain away

Stephen Shore, Self-Portrait, New York, March 20, 1976

* From Harper's December 2007:

-- Rank of Ron Paul among Republican candidates who have received the most in contributions from U.S. service members: 1

-- Minumum number of edits to Wikipedia since June 2004 that have been traced back to the CIA: 310

-- Percentage change since 1990 in the number of pawn shops in New York City: +523

-- Average number of sexual partners a person in a wealthy country has in his or her lifetime: 10

-- Average number in a poor country: 6

-- Number of lap dancers whose tips and menstrual cycles were tracked by a recent University of New Mexico study: 18

-- Percentage by which a dancer's tips during fertile days exceeded those during menstruation: 92

-- Number of Christmas trees FedExed last year to U.S. troops: 11,854

-- Number of seconds it takes a synthetic Christmas tree to burn: 32

* Two new episodes of Soft Focus -- Kevin Shields and Mark E. Smith -- are now online.

* "With a lyric poem, you look, and meditate, and put the rock back. With fiction you poke things with a stick to see what will happen." --Margaret Atwood

November 18, 2007

baby you're so obscure

Lisette Model, Reflection, New York (Delancey Street), 1940

* Top ten conservative idiots. excerpt:

"7. News Corporation

"There's trouble afoot in the Magical Land of Murdoch: last week conservative publisher Judith Regan filed a lawsuit against NewsCorp, alleging that "a senior executive there encouraged her to lie to federal investigators about her past affair with Bernard B. Kerik after he had been nominated to become homeland security secretary in late 2004," according to the New York Times.

The lawsuit asserts that the News Corporation executive wanted to protect the presidential aspirations of Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Kerik's mentor, who had appointed him New York City police commissioner and had recommended him for the federal post.

"Surely not! I have a hard time believing that anyone at NewsCorp would advocate lying to federal investigators in an effort to prop up the presidential campaign of Rudy Giuliani...

The Fox News Channel's coverage of the presidential race has been a topic of some discussion within rival campaigns because the channel is directed by Mr. Giuliani's friend of 20 years, Roger Ailes. But the network has strongly defended the balance of its coverage under Mr. Ailes, who served as media consultant to Mr. Giuliani's first mayoral campaign in 1989. Mr. Giuliani, as mayor, later officiated at Mr. Ailes's wedding.

"Yes, absolutely nothing to see here. Move along."

* Bush nominates two that gave him money. excerpt:

"President Bush chose to fill two high-level positions yesterday with federal judges who had given him campaign contributions while under consideration for their judgeships.

"Bush nominated Judge Gene Pratter, of Pennsylvania, to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, a level just below the U.S. Supreme Court. Pratter, who was featured in the CIR report, 'Money Trails to the Federal Bench,' gave $2,000 to Bush in 2003, after interviewing with the White House for her judgeship.

"Bush also picked Judge Mark Filip, of Illinois, to be deputy attorney general, the No. 2 spot in the Justice Department. Filip gave Bush $2,000 in 2003, after the president nominated him for his judgeship, as earlier reported by CIR.

"There are no laws against political contributions by a judicial candidate, but some ethics experts and federal judges say that it is inappropriate.

"Pratter also gave $1,500 to Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Penn.) in 2003, around the time she interviewed for her district judgeship with Specter’s bipartisan selection panel.

"To fill Pratter’s spot on the federal district court, Bush nominated an attorney who also gave money to Sen. Specter while reportedly being pushed for a judgeship by the senator.

"Carolyn P. Short gave Specter $2,300 on March 29, 2007, though he is not up for reelection until 2010. It was Short’s first federal donation since 1998, when she gave to a Democrat, according to government records. The Legal Intelligencer reported that Specter was advocating for a Short judgeship as early as fall 2006. Short served as general counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee during 2005 and 2006 at Specter’s request. Specter is currently the ranking Republican on the committee, which reviews Bush’s nominations. Short did not respond to a call and email requesting comment.

"In a 2006 interview with CIR, Specter said political donations are 'not a factor' in who gets recommended for judgeships. He said that once an individual becomes a 'prospect' for a judgeship, that person should not continue to make contributions. When informed that a few Pennsylvania judges had given donations after that point, Specter said, 'If I had known about it, I would have returned their contributions. I don’t want anybody to think that it's relevant.'"

* Norman Mailer and Rip Torn in a fight on the set of Mailer's "Maidstone." Is the fight authentic or staged? During the fight, Mailer chomps off a piece of Torn's ear. Watch it.

* "The most exciting happiness is the happiness generated by forces beyond your control." --Ogden Nash

November 16, 2007

I ride a G S scooter with my hair cut neat
I wear my wartime coat in the wind and sleet

Evelyn Hofer, Springtime Washington DC, 1965

Young Poets
-- by Nicanor Parra

Write as you will
In whatever style you like
Too much blood has run under the bridge
To go on believing
That only one road is right.

In poetry everything is permitted.

With only this condition of course,
You have to improve the blank page.

The Last Toast
-- by Nicanor Parra

Whether we like it or not,
We have only three choices:
Yesterday, today and tomorrow.

And not even three
Because as the philosopher says
Yesterday is yesterday
It belongs to us only in memory:
From the rose already plucked
No more petals can be drawn.

The cards to play
Are only two:
The present and the future.

And there aren't even two
Because it's a known fact
The present doesn't exist
Except as it edges past
And is consumed...,
like youth.

In the end
We are only left with tomorrow.
I raise my glass
To the day that never arrives.

But that is all
we have at our disposal.

No President's Statue Escapes
-- by Nicanor Parra

From those infallible pigeons
Clara Sandoval used to tell us:

Those pigeons know exactly what they’re doing

November 15, 2007

shapes making sense

Sylvie Fleury, Be Amazing, 1999, Electric Lights and Housing


The Fox -- Slater-Kinney
in the mind of the bourgeois reader -- Sonic Youth
Tinker Taylor -- Terry Reid
Ballad of a Thin Man -- Stephen Malkmus
Short History of the Human Race -- The Fugs
The Last Time I Did Acid -- Jeffrey Lewis
Telegraph Melts -- Jandek
Let's Be Buried Together -- Bill Fox
Bike -- Pink Floyd
Oh Virginia -- John Phillips
The Opera House -- Olivia Tremor Control
Portrait in the Clouds -- Wooden Wand
The President's Prayer -- Barton Sutter
Too Much Time -- Captain Beefheart
Alligator Bugaboo -- Lou Donaldson
Married to the Moon -- The Muggabears
People Who Died -- Jim Carroll
Zen Music Girl -- The Birthday Party
Marilou Reggae -- Serge Gainsbourg
Harlen County -- Jim Ford
Saturday Night -- Marc Bolan
Hands in my Pocket -- Mirrors
Wild Mountain Nation -- Blitzen Trapper
And Then -- Pavement
Gasoline -- The New Year
The Night Chicago Died -- Paper Lace
K-Hole (Demo) - The Silver Jews
The Night Before -- Lee Hazlewood
Weird Sisters -- Sparklehorse
Something on my Mind -- Karen Dalton
Down by the River -- Neil Young
Watch Me Jumpstart - Guided by Voices
Velvet Waltz -- Built To Spill
Superlungs my Supergirl -- Terry Reid
Like Foxes Through Fences -- American Analog Set
Natural Decline -- Smog
I'm Not Proud of the USA -- The MIce
I Don't Mind -- The Who
Can't Leave Her Behind -- Stephen Malkmus
This Year -- The Mountain Goats
Complicated Rhyme -- Jennifer O'Connor

-- Stereogab's set

-- Leafy Green's set

* In DC -- Tonight The Caribbean at Crooked Beat Records (2318 18th Street NW) at 7pm (Free) and Metropolitan at Iota (2832 Wilson Blvd, Arlington) at 9pm ($10). With Exit Clov and Cabin.

* "The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it... Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate.... Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." --Martin Luther King Jr

November 14, 2007

Life in the hive puckered up my night,
the kiss of death, the embrace of life

Allen Ginsberg, Harry Smith Hermetic Philosopher and Alchemist Transforming Milk into Milk, New York, January 12, 1985

-- by Jennifer Boyden

They wrote it all down for me.
In the living room on the walls
they wrote who gave it up and who wanted it
most and a phone number. They told me
where to stick it, how to like it,
what the consistency was. There was a lot
I didn’t get, but they left more under the bridge
and against the back of Red Plank Records.
But I never met them. They came in the smoke
of my absence, during the hum
of appliances that needed to be wrapped
with stuffing and tape.
They made me the queen of their intent,
all the messages like stars
on the undersides of overpasses. I stay informed
about the people—what they do to each other,
how to take it, what number to call
for a piece of your own and what happens
if you’re not there to get it.
I watch for them to come back.
I watch for them from across the street
in my rented room with the walls painted red
and my little bit on and the curtains
more than slightly parted.

Two Menus
-- by Rachel DeWoskin


Outside McDonald’s downtown
in Beijing, I board a bus bound
for mountains with Xiao Dai
who carries equipment, asks why
I have to be so headstrong.
I say nothing. We belong
to a climbing club. Sheer rocks.


It is better to be the head of a chicken
than the tail of an ox. Men mention
wisdom whenever I disagree
with them. I am roped in, belayed. If we
fall, we all fall. My fingers are between
a thin ridge, sideways, gripping. I lean
down to tell Xiao Dai it’s better to be
neither chicken nor ox. He can’t hear me.
The rope swings, flicking sparks off cliffs.


Translation is insurance. With just
enough to cover what we must,
we speak only where there’s overlap, conserve
our syllables, expressions, every move.


The restaurant in Beijing called “Bitterness
and Happiness” has two menus: one of excess,
the second, scarcity. We order grass
from one and from the other, flesh.
The Chinese language has
77,000 characters Xiao Dai regards as
evidence. When I ask of what, he is putting
roots on my plate. Love, he says. My footing
gets rocky around these matters of fact.
A word for each affair? The waiter is back.

The Talk
-- by Franz Wright

Aged a lot during our talk
(you were gone).
Left and wandered the streets for some hours—
melodramatic, I know—
poor, crucified by my teeth.

And yet, how we talked
for a while.
All those things we had wanted to say for so long,
yes—I sat happily nodding
my head in agreement,
but you were gone.
In the end it gets discouraging.

I had let myself in;
I'd sat down in your chair.
I could just see you reading late
in the soft lamp-light—
looking at a page,

listening to its voice,

yellow light shed in circles, in stillness,
all about your hair . . .

The Law

-- by Gerald Stern

The world is always burning, you should fly
from the burning if you can, and you should hold
your head oh either above or below the dust
and you should be careful in the blocks of Bowery
below or above the Broome that always is changing
from one kind of drunkenness to another
for that is the law of suffering, and you know it.

November 13, 2007

Received your invitation to the war
I sent it back so please don't send no more

Michael Craig-Martin, Common History, 1999

* Legalize it, control it and tax the living hell out of it. excerpt:

"Larry Campbell has seen the effects of Canada's marijuana prohibition laws first-hand, as an RCMP drug officer for eight years and as chief coroner of B.C. before his election as mayor of Vancouver in 2002.

"He figures the drug should be legalized, controlled -- and taxed like tobacco.

"'There is no question that there is violence tied to the grow-ops. There is violence involved in the criminal gangs that run them,' Campbell says.

"'The time is here that we should simply take this out of the criminal element and regulate it. The idea that marijuana is virtually any of the things that the drug warriors in the United States say is ludicrous.

"'They're much like the Conservative government -- they don't believe in scientific fact.

"'The fact of the matter is that if we regulated it, we would probably find ourselves in much the same way as we are with tobacco right now.

"But Campbell is against simply decriminalizing the drug.

"'I don't support that because it sends out a real mixed message. It says to those that use it, 'This is not a problem, but we're not going to make it legal.'

"'And it says to the drug gangs, 'Congratulations, you just moved up to a new notch here. Nothing's going to happen to your customers, so you can grow it and sell it as much as you want.'

"'It's just a simpler form of prohibition.

"'I don't think that Little Johnny should have a record [for marijuana use] and I don't think he should be barred from going anywhere [because of a criminal record].

"'Just take a look at Prohibition in the United States with alcohol. It's as simple as that.

"'I would be hard-pressed to find any people that I know who haven't smoked marijuana and I can tell you that I don't have any of them to my knowledge who are addicted to any other drugs or marijuana.'

"Campbell says one thing has convinced opponents marijuana should be illegal: ideology.

"'It's all ideology -- if they're wrong on this, then what else are they wrong on? They won't even allow hemp. That's how stupid these people are -- and they are stupid. I describe [White House drug czar John] Walters as a moron, and he is truly a moron.'"
"Campbell says 'there's no question' Canada's marijuana laws are dictated by the U.S. war on drugs.

"'We dance entirely to their tune. We're afraid of what will happen if we ever legalize marijuana.'"

* RIP Normal Mailer: Why we shoud weep for him.

* Vintage alcohol ads featuring movie stars.

* "A jury consists of twelve persons chosen to decide who has the better lawyer." --Robert Frost

November 9, 2007

Take fear and call it lust

Grace Weston, Nitey Nite, 2005 chromogenic photographic print

-- John Newlove

The lone figure leans in the snow.
A rifle is stuck beside him:
one hand is on it.

He waits an approaching figure.
He will decide, when it comes,
to kill or to run.

It is the white centre of the world
his reason squats in.

They Came
-- by Odysseus Elytis

Translated by Edmund Keeley and George Savvidis

dressed up as “friends,”
came countless times, my enemies,
trampling the primeval soil.
And the soil never blended with their heel.
They brought
The Wise One, the Founder, and the Geometer,
Bibles of letters and numbers,
every kind of Submission and Power,
to sway over the primeval light.
And the light never blended with their roof.
Not even a bee was fooled into beginning the golden game,
not even a Zephyr into swelling the white aprons.
On the peaks, in the valleys, in the ports
they raised and founded
mighty towers and villas,
floating timbers and other vessels;
and the Laws decreeing the pursuit of profit
they applied to the primeval measure.
And the measure never blended with their thinking.
Not even a footprint of a god left a man on their soul,
not even a fairy’s glance tried to rob them of their speech.
They came
dressed up as “friends,”
came countless times, my enemies,
bearing the primeval gifts.
And their gifts were nothing else
but iron and fire only.
To the open expecting fingers
only weapons and iron and fire.
Only weapons and iron and fire.

The Weather
-- John Newlove

I'd like to live a slower life.
The weather gets in my words
and I want them dry. Line after line
writes itself on my face, not a grace
of age but wrinkled humour. I laugh
more than I should or more
than anyone should. This is good.

But guess again. Everyone leans, each
on each other. This is a life
without an image. But only
because nothing does much more
than just resemble. Do the shamans
do what they say they do, dancing?
This is epistemology.

This is guesswork, this is love,
this is giving up gorgeousness to please you,
you beautiful dead to be. God bless
the weather and the words. Any words. Any weather.
And where or whom. I'd never taken count before.
I wish I had. And then
I did. And here
the weather wrote again.

-- Potluck flyer by Stereogab

November 8, 2007

We could slip away, wouldn't that be better
Me with nothing to say, and you in your autumn sweater

Kelly Sears, Crucial Crystal, 2005

* CounterPunch: What We Learned From Stephen Colbert's Presidential Campaign. excerpt:

"I'm no slacker when it comes to politics, but I almost fell off my balance ball when I saw Carol Fowler, the chair of the South Carolina Democratic party, tell Stephen Colbert that her little committee of 16 didn't think he was 'quite ready to be president.' I hate to be the Col-bearer of bad news, but in case you haven't heard, they voted to keep him off the ballot.

"The funnyman had failed the party's 'viable candidate' test despite the fact that one poll showed him statistically tied with Joe Biden and ahead of Dennis Kucinich, Bill Richardson and Mike Gravel; and another gave him 13% of the vote in a three-way race with Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani.

"Until that moment, I had no idea that a few political party elites could decide subjectively who was viable and vote to scrap the others before America could have its say. Could a not-so-sweet 16 reject Hillary Clinton willy-nilly if they believed a female had no chance? Is this a backstage glimpse of democracy in action? Shouldn't legitimacy require objective standards?

"Fowler's words felt like fowl play (that's southern for chicken ordure) and no doubt ticked off millions of young people who had crept out from behind 'down with politics' placards to vote for the first time. The sentiment is expressed best on Youtube with the lyrics: 'Get even, vote Stephen Show them you're disgusted. The system's busted.Stick it to the man.'"
"By shutting the door on Colbert's candidacy, some argue the political establishment has revealed its true colors are not red, white and blue. Instead, they secretly salute the flag of monopoly, manipulation, disenfranchisement and hypocrisy.
"The two parties are private organizations with the legal right to choose their candidates however they wish. They can evaluate party loyalty, use ideological litmus tests, weigh campaign nest eggs, cave to daddy's political connections or allow a committee of 16 to call shots 'out' even when the masses would rule them in bounds.

"Muckraker Colbert has shed a light on this irksome game. It is particularly unappetizing because the two parties have a quasi-public reality to them. They are like public utility companies in that they get all the business all the time: a candidate has little chance of winning--especially the presidency--unless he or she is affiliated with one of the two giants. In addition, the parties simulate nonprofits, saying they exist to benefit the public good. Have you ever heard a Democrat or Republican admit it's all about increasing party power and achieving a monopoly; and well, curses to the little people?"
Colbert's fake campaign was arguably less phony than those of competitors because the comedian was honest about the politics-as-usual hustle. Plus the entertaining Everyman offered Independents a place to hang their hats with hope that a mountain of headgear could eventually transform the two parties into relatively harmless molehills.

* Seven way to Really not support the troops.

* In DC? POTLUCK is back!! Next Wednesday November 14, 2007 @ Cosmo (1725 Columbia Road, NW, above Chief Ike's). Leafy Green and I will be playing hits and non-hits from your favorite bands.

* "When men are pure, laws are useless; when men are corrupt, laws are broken." --Benjamin Disraeli

November 6, 2007

Echelon your dreams and they'll come true

Milana Braslavsky, The Couple, 2006

A Tortured Critique
-- by klipschutz

Floggers flog
As bloggers blog
far from the scene of the crime

The questions come
The answers go
Spit it out with a wince, I’ll make it rhyme

Water, even water, glorious alive moon-powered water
which I feasted my bad eyes on, on and on
not three weeks ago on English Bay

is an arrow in the quiver of the "truth"
(but see Johnny Cash; but see Colbert)

Hard times for heroes, hard times
for Burmese monks, for Pakistani lawyers

Silence in the court of insta-polls!
Judge Judy and Executioner (I stole that line)

Even Superman was Humpty Dumpty broken
by the misinterpretation of a horse

And cautionary tales fall on deaf ears
borrowed from a Carolyn Forché poem.

My Life in Robes
-- by Leonard Cohen

After a while
You can't tell
If it's missing
A woman
Or needing
A cigarette
And later on
If it's night
Or day
Then suddenly
You know
The time
You get dressed
You go home
You light up
You get married

Always on the Train
-- by Ruth Stone

Writing poems about writing poems
is like rolling bales of hay in Texas.
Nothing but the horizon to stop you.

But consider the railroad's edge of metal trash;
bird perches, miles of telephone wires.
What is so innocent as grazing cattle?
If you think about it, it turns into words.

Trash is so cheerful; flying up
like grasshoppers in front of the reaper.
The dust devil whirls it aloft; bronze candy wrappers,
squares of clear plastic--windows on a house of air.

Below the weedy edge in last year's mat,
red and silver beer cans.
In bits blown equally everywhere,
the gaiety of flying paper
and the black high flung patterns of flocking birds.
the men who spurred us on
sit in judgement of all wrong

Roger Mayne, Southam Street, London W10, 1956

* Current drug laws destroy lives. excerpt:

"Newsflash: California authorities are taking children away from their families because of their parents' medical marijuana.

"Newsflash: The US federal government imprisons thousands of people for decades over minute quantities of crack cocaine.

"Newsflash: Indonesia's Supreme Court says it's okay to kill drug offenders.

"Newsflash: Anti-drug law enforcement crackdowns are driving people away from health services and causing more of them to get Hepatitis or AIDS.

"And much much more. Every day, more than 4,000 drug arrests are made across the United States, their targets often getting ticketed, fined, jailed, prosecuted, sentenced, incarcerated. Arrestees can lose their cars, their homes, their livelihoods, their families, their reputations; suspects or bystanders can get shot or traumatized by no-knock raiders. Yet the drugs continue to flow and it is all for nought.

"The more typical newsflash in the mainstream media is when someone was arrested or a drug operation was raided or some drugs were seized. But that's not really news, it's just the background of futile activity taking place all the time. When the dust settles, another family is reeling, another mound of taxpayer money is squandered, another Constitutional right has been sabotaged and undermined.

"Newsflash: It's wrong to attack millions of people in the ways the drug war does, and the drug war doesn't work. Prohibition needs to end."

* Easy Patriotism. excerpt:

"Those of us who watched the recently completed World Series know that during the seventh inning stretch, the network did not break for commercial, but instead featured a celebrity singing Irving Berlin's, 'God Bless America.' Berlin first wrote the song in 1918, but revised it in 1938 in response to the rise of Hitler.

"Following the September 11, 2001 attacks, this has been a tradition at many ballparks across the country. It has taken on the persona of a second national anthem. Though on the surface this may appear as an innocuous display of patriotism, it can also be viewed as an overt display of nationalism.

"Those in attendance are asked to stand in unison and sing a song that petitions for divine providence, based on one's love for the country. This doctrine of special providence finds its roots in the Puritans who settled in New England in the early 17th century.

"The Puritans held a belief, which many hold today, there was a divine influence in every aspect of their lives, and thus they were rewarded for their virtue and punished for their vices. And as long as they remained virtuous no harm would come to them. Over the centuries this belief has moved beyond the church and placed itself into our public discourse.

"A grotesque examples of this was when the late Rev. Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, immediately following 9/11, blamed the attacks on liberal forces because the culture they espoused had weakened the country."
"Whether it is singing 'God Bless America,' adorning a bumper sticker on our cars supporting the troops, or wearing a flag or a yellow ribbon, we are in effect asking for special providence without much participation. This is an easy patriotism that requires little effort on our part.

"This type of patriotism has the country singing a contradictory tune where the vast majority do not want their sons and daughters on the frontlines of Iraq or Afghanistan via a draft, but are perfectly willing for their children and grandchildren to pay for the war by opposing any tax that would subsidize it in lieu of the current practice of borrowing.

"Historically, our virtues and vices have been inextricably linked. Can the greatness that we ascribe to Abraham Lincoln for keeping the Union together or Martin Luther King's appeal to the country's moral conscience be separated from America's original sin of racism?

"The things that made America great historically also lead us today to be insensitive to other cultures and to overestimate our abilities to influence world events.

"This is the danger presented when we see America as a 'shining city on a hill.' It is assumes the rest of the world is looking up at us, while we benevolently look down. The gap between these two perspectives is filled with arrogance and hubris.

"If our patriotism can only be symbolic, what good is it? Symbolic displays, though they may be heartfelt, carry no moral authority for a country that has embraced the ideals of America while Congress, who is sworn to protect and defend the Constitution, cannot unanimously oppose the use of torture."

* Japanese man documents the life of a vending machine.

* "Art is the elimination of the unnecessary." -- Pablo Picasso

November 5, 2007

at two hundred tons its hard to dance

Harry Callahan, Eleanor in Chicago, 1948

* Top ten conservative idiots. excerpt:

6. Pat Buchanan

"Seems that these days you can't turn on MSNBC without seeing Pat Buchanan's ugly mug. I mean, seriously, he's on there like 20 hours a day. (He needs the other four hours to recharge his outrage batteries.)

"Yes, Pat has certainly rehabilitated his image since 1992 when he gave the keynote address at the Republican National Convention and railed against radical feminists and abortionists and militant homosexuals in a speech which the late great Molly Ivins said "probably sounded better in the original German." These days he can manage to blather on cable news for hours a day without revealing his true nature.

"Well - almost. Here's Pat discussing Barack Obama last week:

This is not a street fighter, and he doesn't have the eye of the tiger. It is quite apparent. I think Chuck is exactly right. He's up there, sort of holding forth. I mean, he's not what you would expect from a black guy from the South Side of Chicago.

"Oh really Pat? Care to clarify? What exactly would you 'expect' from a black guy from the South Side of Chicago?

"Tell you what, next time you're in Harlem why don't you meet up with Bill O'Reilly to discuss it over a nice glass of M-Fing iced tea at Sylvia's restaurant."

* From a 1970 interview of Sterling Morrison. excerpt:

Q: I heard many rumors as to why Nico left the group. Would you clarify that?

Morrison: It was all very informal. We stopped working for a while. We used to do that periodically - just refused to do anything. Nico needed money so she went out on her own. She was working downstairs at the Dom (Stanley's) and we said sure, do anything you want, and so she was doing that. We'd take turns backing her up. I'd do it for one week, then John Cale, Lou, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Jackson Browne - everyone was showing up as Nico's accompanist. When we decided to start work again we told her about it, and she said, oh, I have three more weeks here. So we told her to decide what she wanted to do and she decided that perhaps she could go on her own and be a big star, and we said okay. There never was any ill feelings. For instance, Lou played and composed some of the selections for her first album on Verve.

Q: Didn't you help compose the song, "Chelsea Girls" for her?

Morrison: Yes I did some meddling with chords.

Q: I liked the first album she did. It was mostly Jackson Browne but it did have some Dylan on it.

Morrison: Dylan was always giving her songs.

Q: There have been rumors that he wrote several songs with her in mind?

Morrison: I don't know, perhaps. It's very hard to avoid these people in New York. Dylan was always lurking around.

Q: Didn't Andy use Dylan in a film?

Morrison: There was one film with Paul Caruso called, The Bob Dylan Story. I don't think Andy has ever shown it. It was hysterical. They got Marlowe Dupont to play Al Grossman. Paul Caruso not only looks as Bob Dylan but as a super caricature he makes even Hendrix looks pale by comparison. This was around 1966 when the film was made and his hair was way out here. When he was walking down the street you had to step out of his way. On the eve of the filming, Paul had a change of heart and got his hair cut off - closer to his head - and he must have removed about a foot so everyone was upset about that. Then Dylan had this accident and that was why the film was never shown.

Q: What was the general reaction to The Velvet Underground's second album?

Morrison: They were stunned.

Q: To the fact that Nico wasn't on there?

Morrison: Oh no. By what the album was - kind of raw electronics (most of it). We liked the album very much. Generally reaction to our albums is late in coming. They just lay around for a year and then people start to pick up on them. There isn't much you can say about your own albums.
Q: Do you think the group misses John Cale and his presence or not?

Morrison: Yes... no... it's hard to answer.

Q: I miss the viola.

Morrison: Yes, but it wasn't used that much, and it wasn't an essential ingredient as far as we were concerned. Everyone thought when we first showed up doing that that it was a gimmick. It wasn't that at all. You could get a sound out of it that we thought suited the song. It was used only for about three songs.

Q: I think It's a Beautiful Day makes excellent use of the electric violin.

Morrison: The electric viola works better than the electric violin. One might say it's an electric violin but it's not. The electric viola registers a little deeper, so it has a nicer sound.

Q: Have you heard John Cale's Stooges album?

Morrison: No, I haven't listen to that yet.

Q: Have you heard The Stooges at all?

Morrison: No.

Q: Have you heard John's album with Nico, The Marble Index?

Morrison: Yes I like some of the songs on there. I haven't heard The Stooges album, I'll have to do that.

* "I never thought about being a writer as I grew up. A writer wasn't something I wanted to be. An outfielder was something to be. Most of what I know about style I learned from Roberto Clemente." -- John Sayles

November 2, 2007

Five years, what a surprise

Kenneth Patchen

The Dust Congress began five years ago today.

The poems below first appeared here in 2002:

-- by Denis Johnson

since i find you will no longer love,
from bar to bar in terror i shall move
past forty-third and halsted, twenty-fourth
and roosevelt where fire-gutted cars,
their bones the bones of coyote and hyena
suffer the light from the wrestling arena
to fall all over them. and what they say
blends in the tarantellasmic sway
of all of us between the two of these:
harmony and divergence,
their sad story of harmony and divergence,
the story that begins
i did not know who she was
and ends i did not know who she was.

At The Guess of a Simple Hello
-- by Richard Brautigan

at the guess of a simple hello
it can all begin
toward crying yourself to sleep
wondering where the fuck
she is.

my cheap lifestyle
-- by Eileen Myles

After a bourbon
I came in and turned on the tube
lit a joint and watched Monterey Pop
nearly wept when Janis came on
Janis' legs kicking on stage is a memorable site
Janis does her sweet little Texas girl smile as
her act finishes. she kicks her heals
and otis redding is so sexy
millions of young americans experience religion for the first
in their lives
or so the cameras would inform us
I'm concerned about manipulation in this media
how one gains such wonderful power
but of course I'm too tired
thrilled by the process of bringing down a familar blanket
upon my bed
it's nearly fall
nearly winter
I expect the stars will be bright
the woods full of bears

The Light the Dead See
-- by Frank Stanford

There are many people who come back
After the doctor has smoothed the sheet
Around their body
And left the room to make his call.

They die but they live.

They are called the dead who lived through their deaths,
And among my people
They are considered wise and honest.

They float out of their bodies
And light on the ceiling like a moth,
Watching the efforts of everyone around them.

The voices and the images of the living
Fade away.

A roar sucks them under
The wheels of a darkness without pain.
Off in the distance
There is someone
Like a signalman swinging a lantern.

The light grows, a white flower.
It becomes very intense, like music.

They see the faces of those they loved,
The truly dead who speak kindly.

They see their father sitting in a field.
The harvest is over and his cane chair is mended.
There is a towel around his neck,
The odor of bay rum.
Then they see their mother
Standing behind him with a pair of shears.
The wind is blowing.
She is cutting his hair.

The dead have told these stories
To the living.

From His Bed in the Capital City
-- by David Berman

the highway commissioner dreams of us.
we are driving by christmas tree farms
wearing wedding rings with on / off switches,
composing essays on leg room in our heads.

we know there is a policy like ice sculpture,
policy that invisibly dictates the shape
of the freeway forests and the design
of the tollbooths that passing children
send their minds into.

Photography's reminder is sound and momentum,
which were we looking to pare off the edges
of the past anyway, so snapshots of mom
with a kitchen table hill of cocaine
or the dog frozen in the attitude
of eating raw hamberger
get filed under "misc. americana,"
though only partially contained there,
as beads of sap are always leaking
from the columns of the bar graph.

the voices of the bumperstickers tangle in our heads
like cafeteria noise and we can't help but aware
that by making this trip, by driving home for christmas,
we are assuming some classic role.
it is the role he has cast us in: "holiday travelers."

he dreams us safely into our driveways
and leaves us at the flickering doors.

November 1, 2007

The closer you are the quicker it hits you

photographer unknown, cigar and candy counter at People's Drug Store, 7th and M Streets, Washington, D.C., 1914

* New York Times on Torture and the Attorneys General. excerpt:

"Consider how President Bush has degraded the office of attorney general.

"His first choice, John Ashcroft, helped railroad undue restrictions of civil liberties through Congress after the 9/11 attacks. Mr. Ashcroft apparently had some red lines and later rebuffed the White House when it pushed him to endorse illegal wiretapping. Then came Alberto Gonzales who, while he was White House counsel, helped to redefine torture, repudiate the Geneva Conventions and create illegal detention camps. As attorney general, Mr. Gonzales helped cover up the administration’s lawless behavior in anti-terrorist operations, helped revoke fundamental human rights for foreigners and turned the Justice Department into a branch of the Republican National Committee.

"Mr. Gonzales resigned after his extraordinary incompetence became too much for even loyal Republicans. Now Mr. Bush wants the Senate to confirm Michael Mukasey, a well-respected trial judge in New York who has stunned us during the confirmation process by saying he believes the president has the power to negate laws and by not committing himself to enforcing Congressional subpoenas. He also has suggested that he will not uphold standards of decency during wartime recognized by the civilized world for generations.

"In a letter to the 10 Democrats on the committee, Mr. Mukasey refused to say whether he considered waterboarding (a method of extracting information by making a prisoner believe he is about to be drowned) to be torture. He said he found it 'repugnant,' but could not say whether it is illegal until he has been briefed on the interrogation programs that Mr. Bush authorized at Central Intelligence Agency prisons.

"This is a crass dodge. Waterboarding is torture and was prosecuted as such as far back as 1902 by the United States military when used in a slightly different form on insurgents in the Philippines. It meets the definition of torture that existed in American law and international treaties until Mr. Bush changed those rules. Even the awful laws on the treatment of detainees that were passed in 2006 prohibited the use of waterboarding by the American military.

"And yet the nominee for attorney general has no view on whether it would be legal for an employee of the United States government to subject a prisoner to that treatment? The only information Mr. Mukasey can possibly be lacking is whether Mr. Bush broke the law by authorizing the C.I.A. to use waterboarding — a judgment that the White House clearly does not want him to render in public because it could expose a host of officials to criminal accountability.

"After a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in which Mr. Mukasey refused to detail his views on torture, he submitted written answers to senators’ questions that were worse than his testimony. They suggest that he, like Mr. Gonzales, would enable Mr. Bush’s lawless behavior and his imperial attitude toward Congress and the courts."
"There seems to be little chance that Mr. Bush will appoint the sort of attorney general that the nation needs, a job that includes enforcing voting rights laws and civil rights laws and ensuring that criminal prosecutions are done fairly. Still, senators with a conscience that can be shocked should insist that Mr. Bush meet a higher standard than this nomination."

* John Schnall, WFMU's former animator-in-residence (and the creator of the Telephone Jam and the Midnight Matinee) has been busy with his youtube channel lately and he just cranked out a political love paean that even Sonny Bono would've been proud of: I've got you Mr. President. [via skimble]

* Be sure to check out wordstrumpet, a blog by the poet Rachel Loden.

* “The brightness of the outlook at home was not made greater by the explosion of the Civil War in the spring of 1861. These months, and the three years that followed them, were not a cheerful time for any persons but army-contractors.” -Henry James, writing in 1879 on Nathaniel Hawthorne